McGrath lauds Erne side for fighting spirit against Tyrone
Tyrone 1-9 Fermanagh 0-12
Published 04/04/2016 | 02:30
Pete McGrath hailed the composure and manliness that carried his players to a vital point, and survival in Division 2 of the League.
The Erne men threw themselves into a desperate battle for survival, and a high-risk possession game helped them close out a tense Ulster derby.
In the end, they didn't have to rely on results from elsewhere, and a first season back in the second tier has seen them consolidate their position as an emerging northern force thriving under the stewardship of double All-Ireland-winning boss McGrath.
"To gain a stake in this game for us, it was going to take energy, it was going to take manliness, composure, it was going to take grit," said McGrath.
"It was going to take character and I really think we had all of those qualities in abundance here today."
McGrath admitted that his players employed a high-risk strategy in the closing stages as they backed themselves in playing a lateral passing game to starve their opponents of possession.
"Tyrone are exceptionally good on the counter-attack and yes, it was heart-stopping stuff given what was at stake in this game."
Tyrone, without a win in their last two games, have developed an issue with complacency.
With promotion secured several weeks ago, they have lost that keen edge that marks them out as a team with top-tier potential.
Wing-back Barry Tierney fired in a 10th-minute goal to send the Red Hands on their way to a narrow 1-4 to 0-6 interval lead.
By that time, both sides had lost key attackers, Tyrone's Sean Cavanagh and Fermanagh's Tomas Corrigan, to black cards.
Corrigan had nailed a couple of early points and was the only Fermanagh attacker to score in the opening 26 minutes.
The Erne men gained some fluency and reeled off a string of fine points in the third quarter.
Tyrone hit back as substitute Tiernan McCann levelled the game. Substitute Pat Cadden then edged McGrath's side back in front before they were hauled back by Ronan O'Neill.
Scorers - Fermanagh: S Quigley 0-3 (2f), R Lyons, T Corrigan 0-2 (1f), D Kelly, E Donnelly, PMcCusker, D Teague, P Cadden 0-1. Tyrone: B Tierney 1-0 , R O'Neill (1f), R Donnelly 0-2, R Brennan, M Bradley, T McCann, N Sludden, D McCurry (f) 0-1
Fermanagh - C Snow 5, M Jones 6, C Cullen 6, M O'Brien 7, D McCusker 7, J McMahon 6, D Kelly 7, E Donnelly 8, B Mulrone 7, P McCusker 6, R Jones 7, R Lyons 6, D Teague 7, S Quigley 6, T Corrigan 5
Subs: R Corrigan 6 for Corrigan (BC, 24), C Flaherty 6 for Lyons (52), A Breen 5 for McCusker (55), P Cadden 5 for Teague (58)
Tyrone - M O'Neill 6, A McCrory 6, R McNamee 6, C McCarron 6, B Tierney 7, R Brennan 7, HP McGeary 6, C Cavanagh 7, M Donnelly 6, P McNulty 5, R O'Neill 5, R Donnelly 7, D McCurry 5, S Cavanagh 6, C McAliskey 5. Subs: M Bradley 6 for S Cavanagh (BC 28), T McCann 6 for McGeary (40), N Sludden 6 for McCurry (44), C Clarke 5 for McNulty (54)
Ref - A Nolan (Wicklow)